Western Kentucky at Alabama
Saturday, 12:30 pm PT - ESPN2
CRIS Opener: Alabama -25.5 O/U 58
CRIS Current: Alabama -29.5 O/U 61.5
One of the themes in college football from last week was how bad the SEC looked. Seven losses in the opening weekend was the most ever for the conference, and even in victory, Florida and Tennessee struggled against lesser opponents. For a little over a quarter, it looked like Alabama was going to be part of the ugliness as they trailed USC 3-0 and failed to move the ball on offense. Three quarters later, it was apparent that Alabama was the class of the SEC and the nation after the 52-6 whipping of the Trojans.
Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts’ entry into the game was the turning point for the Alabama offense, even though he lost a fumble on his first collegiate play. Hurts tossed two touchdowns and ran for two more as the Tide piled up over 400 yards of offense in the final three quarters.
On defense, after allowing a USC field goal on their first possession, the Tide completely shut down the USC offense. The Trojans seemingly faced a 3rd and 13 on every possession and only converted 4-of-20 attempts on 3rd and 4th downs. The USC offensive line was total overmatched by the Bama defensive line whether trying to open holes for the running game or protect the passer on passing plays.
Western Kentucky is also coming off an impressive performance in Week 1; a 46-14 whipping of Rice. New quarterback Mike White threw for 517 yards and three touchdowns in his debut and the offense piled up 649 yards against the overmatched Owls defense. The Hilltoppers were barely impeded last week, but that will change drastically this week.
I actually expect Western Kentucky to have a little bit of success on offense in this game, but that doesn’t mean they are going to be able to score much against the Alabama defense. The class difference is just too much for them to overcome as they will be overmatched on the line of scrimmage and at the skill positions. Keep in mind that they managed 14 points against Vanderbilt and 20 points against LSU last year as they went on to win 12 games against just two losses and averaged 44 points per game.
Defensively the Hilltoppers will have a very hard time stopping the Alabama running game. They allowed 48 points to LSU last year and 497 total yards of offense. They even allowed 597 yards to South Florida in their bowl win against the Bulls. This is a defense that returns just four starters and will be facing an Alabama offense looking to work on its game. Nick Saban will not be interested in taking it easy; he is trying to get his relatively new offense ready for the challenges of the SEC, so I don’t expect him to tell Lane Kiffin to lay off the gas when they get a big lead.